Firearms are allowed on Idaho campuses as of July 1, 2014. Come fall, campus is going to be just the same as it was last spring or the fall before that.
“If people are compliant with the law, you are not going to see a weapon,” Moscow Police Lieutenant David Lehmitz said. “I don’t see any change in the physical appearance of campus.”
Director of Public Safety and Security and Chairman of the Gun Task Force Matt Dorschel believes that this new law will have very little to no impact on campus security. Dorschel did support opposition to the Guns on Campus law because it could potentially increase the likelihood of accidental discharge or gun theft.
However, steps are being taken to work with the new legislation. The idea is that people should still call 911 if they see a firearm, even though people could have all the paperwork they need to have the gun on campus.
“We are having security officer training so they know how to properly respond to an armed individual,” Dorschel said.
Campus security officers will also remained unarmed. The Moscow Police Department is on campus as it is, and Dorschel is confident in their abilities.
“We are committed to maintaining the working and learning environment as well as campus security,” Dorschel said.
ASUI president Nate Fisher believes that this law will accomplish what it is supposed to accomplish which is increased campus security. Fisher said he believes the new amendment to the law, allowing institutions to have control of their campuses, will help significantly.
Fisher said he agrees with the choice to leave campus security guards unarmed.
“No one is looking to run headlong into a battle for vigilante justice,” Fisher said. “This law just allows the option of being able to stop someone if you are backed into a corner.”
Fisher said gun or no gun, the main thing to do in order to stand against people threatening campus is for everyone in an area to come together and fight as one.
Not everyone is as hopeful. Boise State alumna Emily Walton has helped create the Coalition to Keep Guns off Campus. The group helped the Guns on Campus bill gain national press and collected nearly 3,000 signatures as well as hundreds of letters and thousands of phone calls to legislators in opposition to the bill.
“Hundreds of people stopped and talked to me,” Walton said. “One even said that he has guns in his house, but still strongly believed that guns should not be on campus.”
Walton’s main fear of this law is that many students that she talked with had the idea that if someone brings a gun to campus, they will have to bring a gun to campus.
“It’s like our institutions are competing in the next arms race,” Walton said.
Walton strongly believes that this law will not do anything to help campus security, however she thinks the most important thing for institution leaders to do is educate the people on campus what this means. Concealed means that no one is supposed to know you have it, Walton said. And she feels that this is important to make sure students and faculty know.
“We have a safe campus,” Fisher said. “I’m confident in the administration to create an effective security plan which will help the safety of all of those on campus.”
Claire Whitley can be reached at email@example.com